Issue 1: Water Resources (Surface and Groundwater)
The San Pedro River is one of the last undammed rivers in the southwest, where water is an increasingly scarce resource. Adequate water quality and quantity—as well as properly functioning watershed, riparian and aquatic habitat conditions—are required by law to support the riparian values within the SPRNCA.
Issue 2: Land Health (Uplands and Watershed Function)
Proper watershed function in the uplands is imperative to the proper functioning condition of the San Pedro River. A healthy cover of vegetation stabilizes the soil, increases infiltration of precipitation, slows surface runoff, prevents erosion, provides clean water to adjacent streams, increases natural groundwater recharge and enhances the visual quality of public land. In addition, diverse plant communities provide habitat for wildlife as well as forage for livestock. In the RMP, BLM will need to: identify priority species and desired habitat conditions, identify areas for reintroduction of native animal species, and limited habitats for special status species.
Issue 3: Riparian Areas, Floodplains, Wetlands, Aquatic Habitats
The scarcity and importance of riparian/aquatic habitat in the desert southwest make them a priority management area for the SPRNCA. The BLM is mandated to manage the SPRNCA for the protection of these habitats. Healthy riparian areas and wetlands stabilize soil, store and gradually release water throughout the year, prevent erosion, and improve water quality. In the RMP, BLM will need to: identify priority riparian/aquatic species and desired habitat, identify areas for reintroduction of native animal species, and limited habitats for special status species.
Issue 4: Cultural/Paleontological Resources
The cultural resources in the SPRNCA represent an internationally significant array of site types, cultures, and time periods. In the RMP, BLM will need to allocate cultural properties to specific uses.The RMP will provide background and detail regarding traditional cultural uses or values, and the development of appropriate management tools to consult with tribal groups and protect, preserve and enhance those values. Paleontological resources will be addressed in accordance with the current policy issued in Washington Office Instruction Memoranda on the Potential Fossil Yield Classification system. The BLM’s objectives are to manage paleontological and cultural resources for scientific, conservation, traditional, public and experimental use.
Issue 5: Special Designations
There are currently three Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), some of which are also considered Research Natural Areas (San Rafael, San Pedro River and St. David Cienega), in the SPRNCA that total 5,420 acres. Current and potential areas for ACEC designation need to be inventoried and incorporated into the RMP.
Issue 6: Livestock Grazing
The majority of SPRNCA has been closed to grazing since 1989. The BLM acquired the SPRNCA in order to protect and enhance the riparian ecosystem along the Upper San Pedro River. Subsequently a decision was made to prohibit livestock grazing for the 15 year lifespan of the San Pedro River Riparian Management Plan (1989) except for 6,521 acres that were acquired after the original designation. This decision will be revisited and addressed in the upcoming RMP. The compatibly of grazing on the SPRNCA with the conservation values of the SPRNCA will be analyzed and evaluated in this RMP.
Issue 7: Recreation
The SPRNCA attracts over 100,000 visitors annually who engage in a variety of recreational activities, especially birding. The SPRNCA draws birders from all over the world as it is one of the premiere birding destinations with an abundance of neotropical migrants in the spring and fall. Recreation activities in the SPRNCA area include camping, birding, wildlife viewing, viewing of cultural sites, hiking, mountain biking, hunting, horseback riding, kayaking, and geocaching. The RMP will evaluate and analyze recreation designations.
Issue 8: Travel and Transportation Management
There is currently OHV, equestrian, foot and authorized vehicle activity on the SPRNCA. A physical route inventory has been completed for the SPRNCA but a comprehensive travel management plan has not yet been developed. A Travel Management Plan for the SPRNCA will be developed as part of the RMP.
Issue 9: Visual Resources
The RMP will address visual resource values in accordance with visual resource management objectives. The potential effects of energy projects such as transmission lines, road development and test ranges for UAS/drone development and other projects may impact the visual values (scenic quality, public sensitivity, and distance zone visibility) of the SPRNCA. VRM classifications will be designated as part of the RMP.
Issue 10: Lands and Realty
Land exchanges and easement purchases have allowed BLM to acquire land or interest in land with special resource values and to consolidate holdings in the SPRNCA. Exclusion and avoidance areas in the SPRNCA will facilitate right-of-way (ROW) proposals (e.g. utility corridors, pipelines, authorizations for development, roads), while balancing the need to protect sensitive resources. The RMP will identify, evaluate, and analyze right-of-way avoidance and exclusion areas.
Issue 11: Urban Interface
There has been an increase in development and population in Sierra Vista and the area surrounding the SPRNCA since the San Pedro River Riparian Management Plan was written in 1989. Consequently there are emerging issues throughout all of the resource areas related to the SPRNCA’s interface with urban areas.